Posted Friday, May 29, 2009
Northeast Ohio has some great opportunities for bicycle riding. While bicyclists and city planners agree on the need to get more people traveling via pedal power, the plan on how best to get there isn't so clear. Some cycling advocates say the answer is better infrastructure and funding. Friday morning, we'll talk to local bike enthusiasts and city planners on what it would take to be a more bike-friendly community and where the funding might come from. Pedaling forward, Friday at 9:00 on 90.3. *Photo of the Towpath Trail, Courtesy of Cuyahoga Valley National Park
The cle hts/ shaker hts/ beachwood bike path is a gem. It allows me and my daughters (ages 12 and 10) a safe way to leave the car at home on weekends and get all of our errands done. We routinely bike to Legacy Village, Shaker Square, Beachwood Place and even Eaton Collection (although the connection from the bike path to the shopping center needs some infrastructure support). The only request I have is more bike racks and even paid self locking (similar to ski lockers) bike racks.
Julie Stolzer, Shaker Heights
Cycling is important for NE Ohio, offering healthy sport, recreation and transportation options to residents, yet government and foundations treat it as a minor activity that doesn't need or deserve support. Every new cyclist and additional cycling mile reduces gas usage, smog and pollution, while improving public and personal health. Investing in cycling offers a big bang for the buck.
The financial value of improved mobility, fuel savings, greenhouse gas reductions, and health care savings ranges between $10-65 billion, outstripping any public spending costs in creating a bicycling and walking transportation infrastructure. For $50 million, the price of a single mile of a four-lane city highway, hundreds of miles of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure can be built, completing an entire network of active transportation facilities for a mid-sized city.
In this economic mess, cycling helps individuals and neighborhoods.
Even modest increases in bicycling and walking could lead to an annual reduction of hundreds of billions of miles of car travel per year. The decreased auto travel is the same as cutting oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions. For most Americans, transportation is an expense second only to housing, higher than health care, education and food. Even before runaway gas prices, the average American spends 19% of their income on transportation, with households that heavily rely on cars for transportation spending 50% or more. Based on AAA reports, typical car commuter costs are more than $11,500/year.
Northeast Ohio has the opportunity to rebuild our neighborhoods and by offering healthier and more active transportation choices, we can create thriving neighborhoods where people want to live. The current transportation network leaves us way behind the curve. New investment to support walking and biking will create pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, an important step to get the nation back on track.
It's a cost-effective step we need to take in these tight financial times.
Kevin Cronin, ClevelandBikes
I actually share the overall goals of many "bicycle advocates". I really would like to substitute cycling for motoring. But I will not harm cyclists to do so. I do not like being a pawn or treating others as pawns.
I have a challenge to "bicycle advocates". If they are really serious about enhancing cycling, then they should agree to:
1. Support separate facilities only if they are designed, built and maintained to the highest standards. This means, among other things, opposing bicycle sidepaths that have at-grade crossings with roadways or commercial driveways, opposing "door zone" bike lanes and opposing bike lanes that put cyclists in conflict with turning and crossing traffic.
2. Support separate facilities only if they are optional use. This means opposing such facilities where their use is mandated (such as California, Oregon and New York). It also means working to deter harassment of cyclists that ride on the road by educating motorists that cyclists who chose not to use such facilities probably have a good reason.
3. Insist that spending on cycling education be at least equal to that spent on separate facilities.
I ride about over 3000 miles/year on the streets of Cleveland and find the experience to be nothing short of battle: from the rough roads to oblivious pedestrians, from wrong-way bikers to jealous motorists. Bicyclists belong on the road, but the odds are stacked against them because drivers are not aware of bicyclists' rights nor are they concerned because they are protected by their vehicles.
I fight the battle with vigilance, speed, a loud voice, well-maintained equipment, and the quick reactions that sometimes require me to take advantage of my mobility. I do not want special lanes that will lead motorists to believe that bicyclists belong in those lanes (which are subject to the "right hook" and opening car doors). A few more programs on the radio and perhaps a series of PSAs about how to ride the roads would do the trick.
Has the issue of riding bikes in cities in cuyahoga county and being attacked or robbed been addressed.
That is what has stopped many of my friends from biking the 1 to 2 miles to work.
I've been enjoying the bicycle racks that went up around Cleveland a couple of years ago.
To me, racks (or other secure places to lock up my bike) are far more important than bike lanes.
Are there plans to continue installing more of these? Is there a way to request specific locations? Is there any funding/assistance available for businesses who want to install bike racks at their businesses?
John, Ohio City
Want to make cycling a safer, more attractive alternative to driving? Start ticketing the fools who ride against traffic. No, don't just ticket them. Confiscate their bikes on the spot and take them to jail. In thirty years of riding my bike on the streets of Cleveland and its burbs I've never seen the police so much as issue a warning to one of those knuckleheads. They're a menace to themselves, to drivers and especially to other cyclists.
John Arndt, South Euclid
I ride my bike to work everyday. The entire issue with bicycles and cars is that Americans are not used to having to deal with bicycles on the road, the way that Europeans and many other parts of the world are used to sharing the road. Our gasoline powered society has come to think of bicycles as a weekend toy, as opposed to a viable method of transportation. In the rest of the world, bicycles and cars use the same roads with ease. Therefore the attitude of the American automobile DRIVER must change and treat the bicycles like another vehicle. They must put on their brake now and then and allow bicycles to GET IN THEIR WAY, instead of trying to run them off the road.
Marc Dorsey, Cleveland
I love to ride my bike, but hate to breathe the fumes from the cars. I vote for designated trails through neighborhoods rather than on major roads.
But on another note, as a driver I get really irritated with bike riders who don't obey traffic signs and signals. I'm sorry, but pedestrians, cars, and bikes must stop at STOP signs and red lights. Lastly, if biking is done for exercise, what's the point of wearing clothes that are so sleek? Wouldn't the exercise be better with more wind resistance?
John, Portage Lakes
The residential streets of the east suburbs are an existing virtual bike trail to University Circle. There is far less traffic on those streets than on North Park, Fairmount, Cedar Road, or Mayfield Road. One can cross major streets at controlled intersections with pedestrian - activated walk signals, and then continue on through quiet neighborhoods with little automobile traffic. My rides to and from University Circle are the best parts of many days at work.
Steve, Cleveland Heights
Several cities in Europe (most notably Paris and Lyon in France) have started programs to offer bicycles for free or for a nominal amount in the city center. They have many convenient drop off points allowing cyclers the ablility to pick up a bike in one location and drop it off in another. This allows city residents and workers the ability to make short trips without getting in a car. It has become enormously popular and they do not have a significant theft problem.
Also: Educating the driving public as to bike courtesy and having preferred bike routes into and around the city (that are publicized) would help.
I look forward to really good biking in Cleveland!
I took the Ohio City Bike Coop's "Bike Safety Course", Marty was in that class with me. It was a terrific tool to educate me as a rider to learn how to navigate riding with traffic.Why not partner with that program? And why not educate the car drivers to Bicyclists Rights? Remember the Ad campaign in the '70's "Don't be a Litterbug"? and how it helped educate all of us not to litter? Well, how about an Ad campaign to educate our city about how to drive and share the road with bicyclists?
The most important aspect to safe cycling is public awareness. If the motorist starts to look for the cyclist in the road accidents will go down. Most motorists assume that bikes belong on the sidewalks, when in fact it is illegal. In my experience it is MORE dangerous on the sidewalk. I think most bike/pedestrian deaths occur on the sidewalk. I ride slightly out in front of the cars so that they have to see me. Too often when I ride closer to the sholder, cars take liberties and don't move as far over to pass. We joke that they will cross the double yellow for a pothole but not for a cyclist!
Also...RTA drivers apparently have had absolutely no bicycle training! If they have, it doesn't show or they don't care. I cannot begin to tell all the stories of "leap-frog", being forced into traffic by a merging bus that doesn't look, and very close encounters with the side of a bus, I even had a driver stop the bus and get off like he was going to fight me simply because I was riding in the street and he had to wait to pass me - no joke.
I am all for public transportation, but there needs to be a fundamental change in the way a cyclist is perceived by the motoring public.
Any news stations out there willing to do a month-long tv spot on bike advocacy?
So happy to see today’s show topic. As a resident of Bay Village and an organizer of Bay Schools Bike To School Challenge (working with Bay Village schools and for sponsor Century Cycles), I wanted to tell you what’s up in our corner of Cuyahoga county.
Bay Schools Bike To School Challenge sponsored by Century Cycles just finished a three-week program on May 22 to encourage Bay High School and Bay Middle School students to bike to school instead of riding a bus or being driven by a parent. The schools wanted to encourage bicycling to improve student health, reduce traffic and help the environment – plus many teachers incorporated the program into their curriculums.
But how did the kids like it? They loved it! During Bike To School Challenge (May 4 – May 22):
62% of middle schoolers biked to school each day – an average of 506 students per day.
31% of high schoolers biked to school each day -- an average of 249 students per day.
37,042 miles – total number of miles biked by Bay students during the three week program.
34,149 – total number of pounds of CO2 emissions saved by Bay students by biking instead of driving.
90 – number of faculty at both schools who made it a “bike to work” challenge and biked to their jobs.
Mayor Deborah Sutherland was a supporter of Bike To School Challenge. This past week, she emailed citizens on behalf of her “Green Team” to encourage them to follow the lead of the city’s youth by bicycling more around town, too.
Tracey, Bay Village
I ride the Euclid Ave. regularly and Jim Sheehan is right about glass shards and right-turning motorists in the bike lanes. But cyclists also should keep in mind comparatively few cars travel on Euclid, making it a fast and safe route.
David, Cleveland Heights
I am on the road a great deal. My only issue with cyclists is that I so often observe them not obeying traffic signals and using hand signals.
Another good hour wasted on cycle babble. I think you have beat this topic to death. Please talk about something else; dikes, skypes, kites, stalactites, anything but bikes!
Please follow our community discussion rules when composing your comments.
I live in tremont and I work downtown. It takes me about 2 minutes to drive to work, I’d love to ride my bike down Scranton to work but it is too dangerous. chuck holes, flooding & no shoulder to speak of make this trip impossible.
matt in Tremont
Bicycling is for everyone but here in Mentor Ohio especially here cycling is predatorial. People whip down Mentor Ave(US 20) as fast possible and yield to nothing. Just recently NOACA repaved Mentor Ave and promised “Sharerrows”. Today I’m still waiting for them to be painted. Mentor still has a ordinance still on the books that says “All Bicycling Must Be Done On The Sidewalk” but I still ride on the road(3000 to 5000 miles a year) & get yell at or be assaulted by angry motorists. The Cleveland Area is a great place to ride with it’s Towpath, Emerald Necklace, and Cleveland Bikeway. The people here support cycling and would like to see more of it. But here in Lake County except for the townships,small villages,and incorporated residential locations bicycling isn’t safe yet. Marty’s talk about Mentor’s Bikeway is all that truthful, Mentor’s bike lanes are asphalt sidewalks(Set back line sidewalks) and upruptly stop at or near sidewalks(Interesting ?). What we need to do is to codes uniformed throughout NEO for cycling and teach proper cycling rights,rules,& Regulations before graduation from High School sounds dumb but most young drivers don’t know why we ride in the road. Correct these and maybe we can “Share The Road"(I was just 4 weeks ago I was in a bike/car accident & spent 4 days in Hillcrest Trauma & believe it or not I was cited for the accident because the people that hit me never heard of bicycling on the road. People here in NEO need to slow down and think they are NOT the only motorists on the road legally. Just wait until the National Bike Highway comes through this area and it’s coming !